Sunday, March 27, 2022

Armadillo Ale Works closing its doors in Denton

Image © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

After nearly a decade of "Representin' Denton", Armadillo Ale Works has announced today, Sunday March 27, will be the last day of operations "for a while, if not forever."

Bobby Mullins and Yianni Arestis launched the brand with a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2011. It would take until 2018 for Armadillo to secure a permanent location on Bell Ave. in Denton, but in the interim the company operated under production agreements at breweries in Dallas and Grapevine.

Armadillo's first commercial beers, Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale and Quakertown Stout, hit the market in early 2013. As was the case with many of the brewery's products, the names called attention to elements of Armadillo's hometown - in these instances, Greenbelt Trail, and the Quakertown community of the late 1800s (today commemorated by Quakertown Park).

Brunch Money, a pioneering imperial golden stout originally released in 2014, was arguably the brewery's most popular beer, but Honey Please received the most notoriety at national competitions. A mesquite bean blonde ale, Honey Please accomplished the rare feat of winning gold medals at both the Great American Beer Festival (2018) and World Beer Cup (2020). These accolades effectively recognized Honey Please as the best honey beer in America, and also the world.

A social media post cited financial impacts due to Covid-19 restrictions as a contributing factor to the closure.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Vector Brewing set to celebrate Second Anniversary

Image courtesy of Vector Brewing.

Vector Brewing of Dallas is set to host its Second Anniversary party on Saturday, April 2, an event celebrating everything the company has experienced during its first two years of operation - awards, an engagement, fancy dinners, collaborations, concerts and even the return to normal.

The brewpub opened in spring 2020, at the dawn of the pandemic, when customers couldn't come inside. After having just finished construction, Vector had to completely change its entire business strategy and space to accommodate the early days of Covid-19. That meant to-go service, packaged beer and a handful of unknowns.

“We all stood in a circle and held hands,” says Veronica Bradley, co-owner of Vector. “I think there were only seven of us - nine if you include our children. And, we had no idea what to expect."

What happened next was, over 100 orders came flooding in within the first three minutes. The crew had never used any of their systems, so they scrambled to shut ordering off. It took them over four hours to catch up.

“We needed 15 people, at least,” says Craig Bradley, co-owner of Vector. “Two of our friends stopped by to congratulate us, and we hired them on the spot. They still work here today.”

Vector's upcoming birthday bash will feature live music, food vendors, and an artisan market, not to mention a selection of over 20 beers crafted by Head Brewer Tomás Gutierrez.

Rare barrel-aged beers will be among the offerings, some of which have been aging since before the brewpub opened. Plus, two new bottle releases will be available:

  • Domus Persica (6.8% ABV):  foeder-aged golden sour ale with local Texas peaches, Tahitian vanilla bean and cinnamon.
  • Neil Kvass Tyson: Death by Black Hole (6.5% ABV):  oak-aged mixed culture kvass farmhouse ale with Andean blackberry, blueberry, açai berry and black currants.

Click here for more information on the event, including details on the live music schedule, food truck lineup and artisan vendor roster.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Case closed for Legal Draft in Arlington

Image © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

Six years after drawing up its initial drafts, Legal Draft Beer Co. has announced the closure of its taproom in Arlington.

Founded by Greg McCarthy and Curt Taylor, the company adopted a legal theme derived from McCarthy's background as an attorney. This, of course, was in evidence throughout the company's portfolio, with beers like Accused Amber Lager, Hung Jury Hefeweizen and Hazeas Corpus Hazy IPA being among Legal Draft's staples.

The sale of the brewery had been rumored in recent weeks, but no further details as to the potential future of the facility were shared in a social media post saying farewell. Remaining inventory is expected to remain available at local retailers until supplies are exhausted.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Taking in Cowtown's Southlake satellite taproom

Cowtown Southlake is located at 1512 E. Southlake Blvd, Suite 10. All images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

Cowtown Brewing Co. has a good little thing going with its satellite taproom in Southlake. Open since late December, the spot sets up in a cozy and comfortable former Ginger Man space in Southlake Town Square. Essentially move-in ready, the site allowed the Fort Worth firm to basically turn the key on a new taproom location.

In terms of operations, it's all about beer and food service in Southlake, as no brewing equipment is installed onsite. Even so, there's plenty of Cowtown beer being brought in from Fort Worth. Upwards of 20 company beers are on tap at Southlake, with the lineup on par with what's being poured at the Belknap brewpub. The powers that be also haven't slacked off on the beer-to-go offerings, stocking a fridge with nearly as many drink-at-home options.

Now, Southlake isn't a full-bore craft barbecue joint like Fort Worth either, but you won't be going hungry by a longshot. Southlake's pub-like menu features shareables (nachos, sliders, brat bites), flatbread pizzas and handhelds (sandwiches and sausages), plus you can still get your smoked protein fix with Cowtown's classic BBQ Meat Sandwich.

As for the ambiance, Cowtown's Southlake surroundings follow the original Ginger Man blueprint, albeit with the walls now adorned in Cowtown regalia. Tables and chairs flank the bar on the ground floor inside, with additional second-level seating up top. The attached patio remains intact as well, for those who prefer to enjoy their beer and bites in the great outdoors.

Of course, the point of the place is to help expand Cowtown's reach beyond the brewpub's hometown borders. For those of us living in the far northeastern segment of the Metroplex, the drive to grab a taste of Cowtown gets cut down by about a third. So, on that point, at least for yours truly it's mission accomplished.

Most importantly, though, what makes a visit to Cowtown 2.0 all the better is the fact that there's no drop-off in quality and selection when it comes to the consumables.

Monday, March 7, 2022

Deep Ellum, Maple Branch honored at 2022 Best of Craft Beer Awards

Image credit: Best of Craft Beer Awards.

Winners have been announced at the 2022 Best of Craft Beer Awards competition, with two North Texas breweries earning honors for their brews.

Held in Bend, Oregon, this year's event took place March 4-6. A total of 482 breweries from around the world submitted 2271 entries for evaluation, with medals doled out across 55 different categories. As in prior years, judging was provided by a panel of BJCP judges, industry pros and vetted brewers.

Medalists from North Texas are summarized below. You can also click here for a complete list of winners.

Deep Ellum Brewing Co., Dallas

  • Dallas Blonde, Silver in the Golden or Blonde Ale category.
  • The Battle of Britain, Gold in the Barley Wines, Wheat Wine & Rye Wine category.

Cheers and congratulations to Deep Ellum and Maple Branch!

Friday, March 4, 2022

Beard Science spons new Wild Sour beer

Image credit: Beard Science Sour House/Truck Yard.

It's been just over a year since Beard Science Sour House opened its doors at Truck Yard in The Colony, setting itself up as the area's lone purveyor of strictly wild and sour beers. Quicker-to-market kettle sour beers have filled the tapwall to this point, but the first of many more long-term fermentations is now ready for release.

According to Brew Boss Dennis Wehrmann, exploring the wild and sour beer realm beyond things fast and furious was part of the plan at Beard Science from the start.

"I think the concept of a sour house, the way we planned to do it, you have to compare to how you would start a bourbon distillery," says Wehrmann. "If you make bourbon, it takes years until the product is ready, and it's the same thing with a sour house. Wild and sour beers take time to ferment and mature, so while waiting for these to develop, we've been making kettle sours as well."

From this line of perpetual liquid projects comes the brewery's new Wild Sour beer. Starting with a dark base, Wehrmann literally let nature take its course with the recipe by way of spontaneous fermentation. The resulting spon beer is tasty and tart with bits of barnyard funk, dark fruit (raisins, plums) and maybe a hint of apple.

"We fermented the beer in our wooden oak fermenter - it's open at the top, and it's not temperature controlled," explains Wehrmann. "This lets bacteria come in from the air and from the environment and they start feeding in there, building lactic acids and other things. We had it in the oak fermenter for about 10 days, and after that we moved it into one of our wooden foeders, where it sat for almost a year."

On that note, it's all about timing with these beers according to Wehrmann. You never know what you're going to get, so it's trial and error as you sample and taste in order to determine when to release any given beer. With this inaugural Wild Sour offering, Wehrmann hopes to get customers excited about the prospects of what's in store for the future from Beard Science.

And what exactly is to come, you might ask? Wehrmann has a Flemish red and a champagne sour beer currently resting in foeders, along with a rather unique spirit-like dark sour beer aging in Ironroot Republic bourbon barrels (think calvados). Of these, the champagne sour is earmarked for bottles, which will be filled and allowed to condition for a time leading up to a 2023 New Year's Eve debut.